I’m just going to throw this out there – most people who are talking and writing about Election 2012 seem to have decided already who they will vote for – and I have not.
Not that I haven’t been thinking about it. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot –I have been reading articles daily, listening to the radio, keeping up with both campaigns – and all that from multiple versions of each source. So, I hear again and again – you have a choice this November.
Recently I have felt like the closer we get to November, the more pressure I feel about that choice, the more I feel the need to figure it out. Like many Catholics I am stuck between the candidates on different issues – not only is there the actual morality of each issue/position to contend with, but also how each candidate would (or could, or even should) legislate each issue. Those are the big picture questions, the more abstract process of thinking through all of this. Then there are also the very immediate questions – how such potential legislation would actually affect my life, and the life of people close to me. The extremely personal nature of many of the hot button social issues being debated/discussed/dissected adds a whole new level of understanding, tension and importance.
Furthermore, as November creepes nearer the advertisements, op-eds, facebook posts, etc. become more polarizing, entrenched, and sometimes more negative. It really is enough to drive a person crazy, or at least make one extremely jaded.
I was in this state of tension and over-saturation when this weekend, I went on a retreat with some Catholic girl friends of mine – and it was wonderful. Beyond the spiritual fruits typically born of such an experience, I became aware of a new fruit, a new gift – unplugging from the all the external media input.
I realized I had been drenching myself in all of it – the radio always on, reading articles constantly, scanning Twitter, facebook, campaign videos etc – so much so that I had not been giving my actual choice-making-self any room to breath! How sweet it is, and how very, very necessary, to go into that “inner sanctum” with the Holy Spirit, and find your own interior voice! When we are only constantly absorbing other’s words we cannot find our own.
So consider this my brief plug (pun intended) to unplug! Don’t neglect to make time to shut out the external noises to give your heart and soul room to contribute to the dialogue racing in your mind. This inner process is more essential this Election than anything – because if it is not you, yourself, making that choice and casting that vote, than who is it?
And how blessed are we – in spite of all jadedness with the political system, we are yet still blessed- to have that choice.
Disclaimer: I still do not know how all I will vote this November (after all I did not contemplate political issues while on retreat!) – but that is not the essential thing. The essential thing is being free of the pressure, anxiety and constant exterior polemic pressure that steal away our personal choice.
Addendum: Here are some resources I have found useful in the voter discernment process. But please…spend some time unplugging before you dive in…!
- This is a great resource for the practical side of voting – are you registered yet? Deadline is October 9! http://votetexas.gov/
- This is the list of all the November General Election Candidates! Know your local politics! http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/general/2012gensbs.shtml
- Here are some more good links, including a sample ballot: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/index.shtml
- UPDATE: Thanks to one of our readers, Helen Osman, for the suggestion to add another link – this is a great source to read thoughtful and faith-informed reflections from our Bishops as we contemplate this difficult issues www.faithfulcitizenship.org.